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Northern Region (Job Dispersal)

Volume 116: debated on Monday 11 May 1987

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61.

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he has any plans for the transfer of Civil Service posts to the northern region; and if he will make a statement.

The DHSS proposes to centralise certain benefit work in Newcastle from local offices. This relocation will increase its work force in Newcastle by at least 300 posts. The needs of the regions will continue to be taken into account whenever the question of location of new work or relocation of existing work arises.

Is it not a fact that for the eight years that this Government have been in power they have shed an ocean of crocodile tears about the high unemployment in the northern region? Their hypocrisy has been demonstrated by the fact that during that period they have deliberately decided not to transfer a single Civil Service post to the north. Will the Minister take down from the shelf the Hardman committee report and see just how strong is the case for dispersal to the northern region?

I know of the hon. Gentleman's persistent interest in this question, and I had hoped that he would be pleased by the announcement that I have just made of 300 additional jobs. The hon. Gentleman knows that our dispersal policy is very nearly completed and that 6,000 posts are being dispersed to other parts of the country. I acknowledge that they have not gone to the northern area; they have gone to Scotland and to other parts of the country, because the northern area, compared with other areas, has a high proportion of civil servants to the total number of the working population. Our dispersal and relocation policies mean that other jobs will be going both to his area and to other areas.